Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sai Gon On My Mind

Most people (if not everyone) must have heard stories or have a vague notion of what Vietnam is all about. The first thing I thought of was "the war", as America was also an integral part of that part of Vietnam's history, it was something that struck me as what constituted "Vietnam".

But beyond that and the occasional trip to Pho Hoa (a Vietnamese restaurant) in our current malls, my knowledge of Vietnam was limited. So when the opportunity presented itself to be able to visit the country (to Sai Gon or Ho Chi Minh City in particular), I grabbed at it.

Before we left, well meaning people - well, actually one in particular - kept saying "You won't find any good sights in HCMC! You should've gone to Hanoi! It's a waste of time to go there and just go to HCMC and not Hanoi!" And while this person probably did not mean to disparage HCMC, it certainly left a bad taste in the mouth to have a future trip have this overcast shadow hanging over it. I resolved to leave all previous notions at the wayside and just enjoy the trip as it comes.

And I am glad that I did.

My impression of Vietnam (by way of HCMC) has changed quite a bit, ever since my trip. If you ask me now, the first thing that comes to my mind when HCMC is mentioned is "Motorcycle Madness!!!" - and this is NOT an exaggeration by any stretch! This is a city that LOVES their motorbikes! And they whizz by from every which direction, defying all sense of logic or reason. I was waiting for the crash of bikes any moment - but it never came! It was mad orchestrated chaos, performed as if this was a ballet recital, and everyone knew their parts, and performed with precision so that no one was is a sight that you must see with your own two eyes...I was with many Caucasians who were equally as dumbfounded as I was (and still am)!

The food was a large part of what made this trip so memorable...we had so much good food and in so much variety that its hard not to gush about it. One thing that I observed as central was the vegetation - I felt like a goat on a vegetarian smorgasboard! Whatever it was they were serving, you would be sure to come across loads of greens and herbs - which is a good thing, considering that in Manila, I don't get to eat vegetables that often.

I had to taste their pho - the "representative" Vietnamese dish most foreigners know. I had it at a sidewalk cafe, and an established chain (Pho 24), and both were excellent, except the one at the sidewalk was cheaper and had more servings =) Freshness was the key to their pho tasting great, I felt like the ingredients were just picked from the garden and served to me =)

I moved on to Banh Xeo ( a pancake that's filled with chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, even more herbs - and you were given more vegetables covering half the plate for you to either wrap the pancake with or eat together with), and I think this is now my favorite Vietnamese dish - it was filling, but you still felt good about yourself because you knew it had so many healthy ingredients in one dish. Not to mention it was rather cheap (by Manila standards) - it only cost 35,000 Dong in a sidewalk eatery (roughly 75-80 bucks).

Of course, we couldn't let their fresh spring rolls go by - it was freshness personified, and I know what you're thinking, "what a redundant way of describing food", but it can't be helped, it felt like they were just making the dish for me and my party (it wasn't precooked and lying around just waiting to be served). Add to the rolls their sauce called nuoc nam - and you would be a happy foodie in no time =)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Most Self Centered Facebook Shout Out

Last Sept 27, Metro Manila was badly hit by typhoon Ondoy, a lot of people were affected by floods.  People lost their homes, loved ones and properties. 

Facebook, a social networking site suddenly became the venue for volunteerism, rescue and relief.  People posted shoutouts asking for help, some posted pics to let the rest know how badly hit was an area.  People offered prayers thru this site, some people organized rescue and relief operations through their shout outs.  But there is one shout out that caught my attention:

**profile name** a tough choice i had to make. left my house with my mitsu car and sala down with water VS my safety and my rav4. i felt helpless, nothing to do as mother nature gives us a miniscule sampling of the great flood.

This is the most self centered, egoistic and pathetic phrase I have ever seen posted in Facebook.  The phrase does not convey any anxiety on the part of the poster.  He is not really worried on his safety.  If you will read between the lines, the poster wanted to made it known to the public that he has 2 cars. I could not fathom and I don't think I will be able to, how can someone post an entry like this at times like these.